Sunday, May 31, 2015

World Science Festival | Sunday, May 31 "What Is Sleep?" and "To Explain the World"

Today was the last day of the "World Science Festival" and I attended two events which show the multifaceted aspects of the science showcased in these five-day marathon of the WSF.

The first event "What Is Sleep" took place at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, where Alan Alda introduced the five panelists, sleep expertsL Mary Carskadon, Paul Shaw, Robert Stickgold, Matthew Wilson. Each panelist is a researcher in different areas of sleep, and mainly with totally different subjects ranging from rats to fruit flies and...humans. While the experiments were understandibly very different, given the diversity of the subjects, the conclusions were similar: sleeping is crucial to the brain functioning and can help to restore memories and maximize our learning potential. The recommendations presented by the panelist, were quite inline with common sense: follow the circadian rhythms and slow-down before going to sleep.The aim was the detect recommendations presented by the panelist, were quite inline with common sense: follow the circadian rhythms and slow-down before going to sleep.
   The centerpiece of the event was the live video observation of human subject, sleeping off-stage whose brainwaves were tracked by EEG. wired-up person sleeping offstage. EEG is a common tool to detect sleep activity as shown by studies ongoing for several years this experiments was not really adding to the educational and informational intent.
     My other critique to this event, otherwise enjoyable and educational, was the lack of attention to sleeping disorders and problems, which are experienced by a large percentage of the world population; a summary of statistics and studies can be found in a webpage from the Center of Disease Control. Even if the event duration was only one hour, some time could been allocated to outline the main sleep problems and disorders as well as the treatment options and other related resources. Every healthy person is aware of the importance of adequate sleep, but how to achieve it often outside our control -or our free will, just to mention another popular theme of the WSF, To overcome the lack of information from the WSF event, below are a few useful sites:

Screenshot of a polysomnographic record (30 seconds) representing Rapid Eye Movement Sleep. EEG highlighted by red box. Eye movements highlighted by red line. Retrieved on June 1 2015 from

The other event concluding the five-day WSF marathon was "To Explain the World: a Conversation with Steven Weinberg", moderated by Peabody Award-winning journalist John Hockenberry and hosted by the New-York Historical Society. The conversation was based on the latest book “To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science" written by the Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg, who also holds the Regental Chair in Science at the University of Texas at Austin.
    Weinberg stated at the beginning of the conversation that "the standard model is not the end of the story" and introduced some of the differences between the classical Greek science and the Hellenistic practitioners, with mentions of Democritus, pre-Socratics, Plato's Academy, Aristotle. Some emphasis was to given to the work of Aristarchus of Samos (c. 310 – c. 230 BC), credited with the first heliocentric model. 
   The conversation was inspiring: Weinberg emphasized the importance of the unity of science and shared more personal details on his research activities. Weinberg, a New York City native and graduate of Bronx High School of Science, discovered the power of mathematics while understanding the equations behind the catenary of a bridge.  He became involved in research at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, which shaped his later studies in particle physics and quantum gravity. He was aware a Nobel prize in 1979 in  physics jointly to Sheldon Lee Glashow, Abdus Salam  "for their contributions to the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles, including, inter alia, the prediction of the weak neutral current".
   I wanted to ask Professor Weinberg several questions which, due to the long line-up, were not answered:

  • Are built construction of early observational astronomy (archeoastronomy) of relevance in the history of astronomy
  • How he situates art in scientific discoveries? What is the role of beauty in science either in a theory formulation of in the geometric cosmological interpretation or configurations itself (e.g. galaxies form). 
Both questions were derived from perhaps a vision of a cross-disciplinary approach to science, where art and science are integrated methodologies in the advancement of knowledge. A vision which perhaps was missing from many of the WFS programs, where art was a mere presentation/communication tool instead of a component of a scientific approach.
From the book cover of "To Explain the World: the Discovery of Modern Science"

Thursday, May 21, 2015

practice | energia

Philosophy is written in this grand book  (I mean the universe) which stand continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and interpret the characters in which is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it; without these, one is wandering about in a dark labyrinth.
—Galileo Galilei 1623
Yoga is a mind-body language and its vocabulary can be also abstracted in mathematical shapes.
This is the intent of my class energia, where movement sequences based on yoga postures vocabulary can be thought as embodiment of geometrical shapes. Geometry inspires movement while movement defines geometry.
Energia is  designed as a psychosomatic approach to deal with distress caused by emotional and mental abuse.

I will be teaching a community class at Lululemon on Broadway & 75 Street on Saturday May 23.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Art Fairs | Frieze: the Flux Labyrinth

Participatory art is another theme du jour, not only at Frieze fair; definitely the Tribute to the Flux-Labyrinth (1976-2015) is one of the most successful examples of experiential art. The Labyrintt was originally conceived by the Fluxus artist George Maciunas in 1975 but went through several presentations/interpretations by other artists. It consists of ten chambers whose entrance door is locked. The viewer/participant has to discover the trick to unlock the door. Other challenges are in the passageways between door.
Entertaining and conceptually interesting, besides engaging. Below my visual memories, in the chambers sequential order.

Art Fairs | Frieze at Randall's Island

My six kilometer walk, from the Upper West Side to the Frieze tent
Yesterday the third New York edition of the art fair Frieze opened in its usual —yet unusual in the art fair geography—New York City location: Randall's Island, in the East River. The container of the artwork is visually quite compelling: a snake-shaped bright white tent is an elegant, yet not-competing wrapping for the multitude of different scale and media sculptures, drawings, paintings, and most of all, installations.

   "Arte Povera" can seem an oxymoron for a commercial fair, but is perhaps one of the largest presence in the Frieze. The repertoire ranges from  cardboard sculptures to trash outdoor installation and newspaper pages elegantly presented in series. The dot paintings series by Jonathan Horowitz, presented by the New York gallery Gavin Browse Enterprise is another example of gimmicky yet visually powerful artwork.

GBE stand and the $20 dot canvases
Kader Attia "Twalaaf Halaam"been cans installation at Lehman Maupin stand

Giuseppe Penone, Marian Goodman Gallery
Allyson Viera compressed plastic
Antonio Dias, Galeria Nara Roesler from São Paulo
More traditional formal exploratiosn from Sean Kelly Gallery
Hauser & Wirth
T. J. Wilcox "In the Air" from Gladstone Gallery
Conceptual explorations from the Wilkinson Gallery
Jenny Holzer at Sprüth Magers

 Sound art has a presence, even if weakly curated.

Participatory art is very presence, from the most common mirrored sculptures to more innovative forms, such as the "flux labyrinth".

P.P.P,O. stand

Richard Tuttle from Pace Gallery stand

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Thoughts | Celebrating By Not Celebration

"Family" holidays have always been difficult for me, at least since when I moved to the US, as an immigrant without community and unwelcomed by my husband's family. But in the past year holidays have been particularly challenging, when my still legal spouse left me with our daughter after over two decades. I don't miss him considering the almost constant emotional, verbal and mental abuse I was subjected too. Neither I miss his elitist, privileged and uncompassionate family. But his departure brought to the surface two decades of pain, anger and neglect.
Mother's day unfortunately does not escape from this pain and while my thoughts are for my ill mother, Gabriella, and still dealing with my husband's mental cruelty and effort to separate me from my daughter Zoe even in this day.
I would like to share a few thoughts inspired by my effort to live through this difficult day, which I am sure I am not the only to experience in emotional pain —although all the cheerful materialistic celebrations. 
There is no need for flowers or chocolate: a peace of mind and kindness are the most valuable gifts. 
Take time for a quiet prayer or meditation, a simple dance movement, or listening to your favorite music. Or a walking meditation.
Escape the pressure of this day by reminding yourself of your beauty as a woman, daughter, mother.
Celebrate yourself. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

camminando & vernissages | NYC, May 1st: Space Time and Self

I design to speak of the Physical, Metaphysical and Mathematical—of the Material and Spiritual Universe:—of its Essence, its Origin, its Creation, its Present Condition and its Destiny. I shall be so rash, moreover, as to challenge the conclusions, and thus, in effect, to question the sagacity, of many of the greatest and most justly reverenced of men. 
—Edgar Allan Poe, Eureka, 1848

The first day of May already announces a vibrant season with many art and design events on the horizon. Space —architectural and cosmological— is the theme du jour —in the mix with a the self/selfies universe.

Luciano Fabro (Turin, 1946 - Milan, 2007): architecture meets arte povera at Marian Goodman

Lucas Samaras "Album 2" at Pace Gallery, West 25 Street

"Eureka" at Pace Gallery, West 25 Street,